Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cranberry Nut Cake


I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. We had a wonderful white Christmas, snowy but sunny, perfect for hiking. We spent the day walking in the snow, singing and whistling carols. We put a chicken along with lots of garlic, herbs, and veggies to roast while we were enjoying the great outdoors. For dessert I made Alfred a scrumptious, but not too sinful, cranberry nut cake. It's an excellent dessert option throughout the winter season, and it will stay nice and moist for several days at room temperature. Happy noshing and nibbling this New Year's!

Cranberry Nut Cake
2 Cups Flour (I use 1 Cup All Purpose, 1 Cup Whole Wheat)
1/4 Cup ground Flax Seed, aka Flax Seed Meal (or another 1/4 Cup Flour)
2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Oil (as always, I used olive oil)
1/2 Cup Apple Juice (or cider or water or milk)
1 Cup Applesauce
1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, chopped finely (a food processor is great for this)
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (I used black walnuts, but pecans or English walnuts would be good too)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
*Fresh Cranberries and Confectioner Sugar for Garnish (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a bundt pan with non-stick spray or a little oil and flour(if your pan has a very intricate pattern, take extra care in coating all the nooks and crannies).

2) In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, flax, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, molasses, oil, apple juice, apple sauce. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the berries and nuts.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test!

5) Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack or plate.

*If desired, dust cake with confectioner sugar and fill the center with fresh cranberries before serving.



As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Great All-Purpose Peanut Sauce or Dip



This yummy concoction works well as a dip for veggies (I don't normally like radishes, but I really like them with this dip!) and grilled chicken or tofu, but it is equally good as a sauce for Asian flavored pasta or coleslaw. It also requires relatively few ingredients* and only takes a couple of minutes to whip up, making it is a great option for holiday parties. Happy Holiday Snacking!

Peanut Sauce or Dip
1/4 cup Peanut Butter (I used creamy and all-natural peanut butter, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup Coconut Milk (shake well before using and DO NOT use Light)
3-4 Garlic Cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh Ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried Ginger
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (you can substitute lime juice if need be)
1 tablespoons Honey or Agave
1 teaspoon of Sriracha Chili Sauce or crushed red pepper (use more or less depending on how hot you like it)
Cilantro and/or Chopped Peanuts for garnish (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients and then refrigerate the dip/sauce until you are ready to use it!

*While you may not be familiar with all of the ingredients, you should be able to find all of them in the Asian section of any grocery store.

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pomegranate and Cranberry Cream Tart


I LOVE this tart!!! It is delectable, pretty, and I can eat it without feeling horrible afterwards - that's right it is dairy free, gluten free, and refined sugar free! It is also quite easy to prepare, but festive enough for holiday parties. For those of you without dietary limitations - trust me you will not miss the gluten, dairy, or sugar!

Pomegranate Cranberry Cream Tart:

Crust:
2 Cups finely ground nuts or nut meal (I used almond meal from Trader Joe's)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil (I used coconut oil)
2 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave
*This makes a crust for a 12inch tart (my only tart pan is really big) you may have a little extra if you use a “normal” 9 or 10 inch tart pan

Pomegranate Cranberry Compote:
12oz. Fresh Cranberries (1 bag)
1 Large, Ripe Pear, peeled, cored and diced
2/3 Cup Pomegranate Juice
1/2 Cup Honey or Agave (plus more if needed)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/4 teaspoon each Nutmeg, Cloves, and Ginger

Coconut Cream:
1 Can of Regular (NOT LIGHT) Coconut Milk, refrigerated overnight* (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
3 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave
*This step is essential, because it makes the coconut water and cream separate and allows the cream to get nice and firm

Pomegranate Seeds for Garnish (optional, but very pretty!)

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mix together all the crust ingredients. Press the crust into your tart pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Let the crust cool completely.

For the Pomegranate Cranberry Compote:
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, cover until the mixture comes to a boil. Then remove the lid and let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the berries have burst open, the pears have broken down and the mixture is thickened - about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, and refrigerate until complete cool.

For the Coconut Cream:
Open the coconut milk, drain off the liquid coconut water, reserve for another use. Place the solid coconut cream in a large bowl along with the honey/agave. Use a hand mixer to whip the coconut cream until it is light and fluffy. Then, mix in the pomegranate cranberry compote.** At this point, you can taste the filling and add additional sweetener (honey or agave) if needed.

Assembling the tart:
Once the crust is completely cool, spread the pomegranate cranberry cream evenly over the tart shell. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top. Cover the tart with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve.



Happy Bellies and Holidays Everyone!

**I did encounter a bit of a snafu when making this. I originally intended to have a layer of coconut cream on the bottom of the tart and then the pomegranate cranberry compote on top of it - like in this blueberry cream tart. However, the cranberry mixture was quite thick, and when I tried to spread it on top of the cream, it started mixing with the cream, so I just gave in and mixed them together. It tasted wonderful, but I would like to try the two layer idea in the future. I think it might help to put the coconut cream in the tart and let it chill and get really nice and firm before putting the cranberry mixture on top - if anybody tries this, please let me know how it turns out!

Bonus fun fact - this is my 100th post!
As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also included this in a couple of special holiday recipe sharing events:
A Holly Bloggy Christmas Recipe Party
A Gluten Free Holiday: Holiday Desserts
Leafy Tree Top Spot's Holiday Recipe Link Party

*There are tons of great festive options to get your mouth watering on all of these sites - so definetly stop by if you get the chance!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Extra Creamy Hummus




I really really love hummus, and I've tried (and failed) many times to replicate the incredibly creamy dreamy hummus from one of our favorite little restaurants in Chicago's Irving Park neighborhood (Salam Restaurant on Kedzi - they have great falafels too!). In my quest for the perfect hummus I've used canned chickpeas, I've cooked my own, I've even laboriously peeled the "skin" off each individual bean! They were all good, but not great. A few months ago I came across a blog that proclaimed to have found the secret to creamy restaurant style hummus - you first combine the tahini and lemon juice until you have a thick white paste, then you puree in the chickpeas. The recipe called for more tahini than I usually use and an awful lot of lemon juice, but I went and gave it a shot. Long story short, it was inedibly sour! So, I started over, did a little tweaking and came up with a really tasty dip. I kept the extra tahini, scaled back the lemon juice, and added in some butternut squash puree.

To be honest, this is really nothing like the hummus from Salam restaurant, but it is yummy nonetheless! The squash adds a hint of sweetness and makes it really nice and creamy. Overall, it is a quick, easy, tasty, festive and healthy snack or appetizer - what more could one ask for? I like to eat it with an assortment of veggies for dipping - broccoli florets (I like to blanch these for just a few seconds), red pepper strips, carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc. Of course, for those who can eat wheat, pita bread would be a natural accompaniment too! Happy Holiday snacking!

Extra Creamy Hummus
1 (15oz.) Can Chickpeas, drained, but juice reserved - or 2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
1/2 Cup Tahini
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Butternut Squash puree - or pumpkin puree
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cumin
Sea Salt to Taste (will depend on the saltiness of the beans you use)

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients expect the chickpeas. Add in the chickpeas, pulse until thoroughly mixed in (it may be a little chunky still). Then, with food processor running, add in enough of the bean juice to achieve the desired consistency.
*This keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mocha Muffins


Sweet treats are always plentiful around the holidays. Many of them are off the charts when it comes to calories and fat. While these muffins aren't exactly health food, mashed bananas, whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate contribute lots of good-for-you potassium, fiber and antioxidants. At the same time, these are super moist and chocolaty. So go ahead and indulge yourself a little! These also make a nice gift, especially when topped with the optional glaze. Happy Holidays!

Mocha Muffins:
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 Cup Buttermilk (I used low-fat)
1/4 Cup Instant Coffee
1/4 Cup Oil (or Applesauce)
1 Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 3/4 Cup Flour (I used a mixture of white and whole wheat)
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chips (I chopped up a bar of Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate)
Coarse Sugar (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line it with paper muffin liners.

2) Stir the instant coffee powder into the milk until it is dissolved (heating the milk slightly may help). Stir in the bananas, oil, egg, vanilla extract, and brown sugar.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

4) Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.

5) Divide the batter equally among the 12 muffin cups, sprinkle the top of each with coarse sugar if using.

6) Bake muffins for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*Optional Glaze: If using, omit the coarse sugar topping

1/4 Cup Confectioner Sugar
1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Milk (add a little more or less to achieve desired consistency)

Combine sugar, coffee and cinnamon. Whisk in milk until you have a smooth glaze. Drizzle over cooled muffins, let sit until glaze sets.

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pear Harvest Salad


We Delshad's are big salad fans! We eat salad with or for at least 1 meal a day. Fresh greens with a light vinaigrette most commonly grace our plates, but we also love incorporating seasonal fruits. The following salad is one of our current favorites. I think it would also be a tasty and festive addition to holiday meals.

In the "recipe" below, I did not include measurements so you can as little or as much of the accouterments as you like. By adding leftover roasted chicken or turkey breast, you can turn this salad into a very satisfying meal (without the meat this dish is vegan).

Pear Harvest Salad
Ripe Pears (our favorite variety is Comice), thinly sliced
Dried Cranberries or Cherries
Candied Pecans (recipe below)
Salad Greens - use whatever you like best, I used a mixture of spinach and bibb lettuce
Maple Dijon Dressing (recipe below)

Divide greens equally among bowls or salad plates, top with pears, cranberries, and nuts. Drizzle with dressing.



Maple Dijon Dressing
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Pinch Sea Salt
Pinch Dried Thyme

Place all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, cover and shake well. Alternatively, whisk the ingredients together.

Candied Pecans
1/2 Cup Diced Pecans
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Pinch Cayenne Pepper

Heat a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the pecans. Let them toast, stirring occasionally until they are fragrant. Combine the maple syrup and the spices, drizzle over the nuts, toss to coat evenly, let cook another 1-2 minutes, until the nuts look caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool.

I hope you and your loved ones have a very Happy Turkey Day!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also linked this recipe to one more really fantastic recipe sharing event - a Gluten Free Holiday. This event was organized by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, it will take place every Thursday in November and December, with different themes each week, and different bloggers hosting each week. This week's theme is Holiday Side Dishes and it is being hosted by Diane of The Whole Gang.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Honey Oat Cookies


If you are looking for a sweet treat you can enjoy without feeling too guilty - give these little gems a try. They are chock full of good for you ingredients: oats, peanut butter and honey. They also come together in a snap and go great with a cup of coffee, tea, or milk. They sure pleased the cookie monster in our household, and I'm willing to bet you and your loved ones would like them too!

Peanut Butter Honey Oat Cookies
1 C. Natural, Creamy Peanut Butter (the kind with peanuts as the only ingredient)
2/3 C. Honey
1 Egg, beaten
1 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt (omit if using peanut butter that contains salt)
1 C. Oats
Coarse Sugar (optional)

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Cream together the peanut butter, honey, egg, baking soda and salt. Stir in the oats.

3) Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls (if desired, roll the dough balls in sugar - this creates a nice crunchy crust).

4) Place the dough balls on the lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown.

Munch away!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also linked this recipe to another really fantastic recipe sharing event - a Gluten Free Holiday. This event was organized by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, it will take place every Thursday in November and December, with different themes each week, and different bloggers hosting each week. This week's theme is "Gifts of Good Taste" and it is being hosted by Alta of Tasty Eats at Home. Cookies always make a great gift - I mean who doesn't like cookies? For gifting, you can jazz these babies up a bit by drizzling them melted white and/or dark chocolate! Head over to Alta's blog for tons of other great edible gift ideas!

Update: I submitted this recipe to the culinary smackdown challenge for March 2011. The theme is cookies, so be sure to head over to Amy's blog U Try it to see the dozens of other sweet treats!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Apple Crumble


Inspired by my success with the purely fruit sweetened banana date bread, in this recipe I set out to make a purely fruit sweetened apple crumble. The recipe is also gluten free, so I actually got to eat some of it for dessert, and I had the leftovers with a little soy yogurt for breakfast the next morning. It was mighty tasty on both occasions!

For sweetness I once again relied on dates. More specifically, I used date molasses - I picked this up at a middle eastern grocer, it is basically very well pureed dates. I know this product may be difficult for some people to purchase, but the good news is you can very easily make your own! Simply cover chopped, pitted dates with boiling water. Let them soak until they are very soft (30 minutes or so), drain them and then puree them in a food processor or mash really well with a fork. Also, I chose to use a fairly sweet variety of apples, Fuji. Since we are not using any sugar, I would avoid the extra tart varieties in this recipe.

Apple Crumble
Topping:
1/4 Cup Date Molasses/Puree
2 Tablespoons Melted Coconut Oil or Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Cup Almond Meal (I buy mine at Trader Joe's, you can also make your own by grinding almonds in a food processor until you have a fine powder)
1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Filling:
3-4 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 Cup Date Molasses/Puree
1 T. Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg (if you can, buy them whole and use the fine grates of a box grater to grate your own - it really makes all the difference)
1/4 C. Raisin (optional)

For the topping: Thoroughly combine the date molasses, oil, baking soda and spices. Use a fork to mix in the almond flour, then mix in the oats and nuts.

For the Filling: Thoroughly combine the date molasses, arrowroot/cornstarch and spices. Drizzle the mixture over the apples (and raisins if using) and stir until the apples are evenly coasted.

Assembly and Baking: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Pour the apples into an 8 or 9 inch (square or round) baking dish. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the apples (I find it easiest to use my hands for this). Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until the apples are tender.

Serve warm!


*This dessert is perfectly scrumptious on its own, though it is not extremely sweet (which I see as a plus). To make it even more decadent serve with vanilla ice cream or yogurt (dairy free for me!).

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kosher Gumbo


This “gumbo” is non-traditional in many ways. First, it does not begin with a roux. In the past I have made gluten free gumbo by using masa harina in place of the flour for the roux. The masa harina worked great as a thickener, but I honestly prefer this roux-less version. In my humble opinion, the okra contributes all the thickener it needs. I also use less liquid than typical gumbo recipes, which produces a thicker stew. Second, there is no shellfish or pork in this gumbo. The only “meat” is cod – which means this gumbo is kosher. Alfred is Jewish, and though he does not maintain a strictly kosher diet, we don’t eat pork because it simply is not healthy. We did, however, want the gumbo to have the smokey flavor that pork typically imparts, so we added some smoked salt to the pot just before serving. You should be able to find smoked salt at specialty shops (I got ours at Sunspot Natural Market in West Lafayette) or you can purchase it through online spice vendors such as Penzey's. If you can't easily locate smoked salt, you can use regular salt and a little liquid smoke instead.

All in all this a lighter, but still hearty and tasty gumbo. It is also pretty quick and easy to prepare compared to traditional gumbo. Be sure to make enough so you have leftovers, like all soups, this gumbo is even better reheated the next day!

Kosher Gumbo
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
3 Celery Stalks, diced
2 Large Carrots, diced
1/2 Garlic Head, cloves peeled and minced
2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1 15oz. Can Fired Roasted Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb. Okra, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 lb. Cod, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 teaspoon or Smoked Salt or 1 teaspoon of Sea Salt plus a teaspoon of Liquid Smoke
Cooked Rice for Serving

1)Heat a large pot over medium heat; coat the pot with the olive oil. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent.
2)Add the broth to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes, herbs and spices, and okra to the pot. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the vegetables. Bring the gumbo to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
3)Add the cod to the gumbo, gently stir to incorporate. Cover the gumbo and let simmer another 30 minutes.
4)Add the smoked salt (or sea salt and liquid smoke) just before serving. Taste and add additional sea salt as needed.
5)To serve, put about 1/2 cup of rice in each bowl and top with gumbo.

Bon Apetite!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup


We Delshads are big fans of soup! When it's cool outside, there's just nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of soup. This was, however, my first time making pumpkin soup. I've seen a lot of winter squash soups floating around the blogosphere lately and this Halloween afternoon I decided to give it a go!

This soup is very creamy, with a complex mix of spicy and sweet flavors that left us both licking our bowls (truth be told, I licked the pot clean too). It is important to use a pumpkin that is meant for cooking, not your leftover jack-o-lanterns. Small "pie pumpkins" are your best bet. You can also feel free to substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup
A 2 pound (approx.) pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 Cups of water
olive oil for coating the pot
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper (such as cayenne)
1 Tablespoon of turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 Can of coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, coat the pan with little olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons).
2) Add the diced onions, and saute until they are translucent (7-8 minutes).
3) Add the garlic and ginger, saute another 5 minutes.
4) Add all of the spices, and let them toast for 1-2 minutes.
5) Add the diced pumpkin, and enough water to almost cover the squash. Cover and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender (around 30 minutes).
6) Puree the soup, return it to the pot, stir in the coconut milk, and bring the soup back to a simmer.
7) Ladle piping hot soup into bowls and garnish with a little cilantro.

Happy Halloween!!!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also included this as part of Jenna's Pumpkin Recipe Link-up over at the Newlywed's Blog, and Tina's Pumpkin Recipe Link-up at Mom's Crazy Cooking. Head over to both cites for a wide array of tasty pumpkin eats!

Last, I 've linked this recipe to one more really fantastic recipe sharing event - a Gluten Free Holiday. This event was organized by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, it will take place every Thursday in November and December, with different themes each week, and different bloggers hosting each week. This week's theme is Gluten Free Holiday Recipes made healthier and it is being hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs. If you ask me, a holiday meal isn't complete without something containing pumpkin, winter squash, or sweet potatoes. These fall veggies are my absolute favorites, they always satisfy my sweet tooth without any added sweetner. As a bonus these veggies are some of the most nutrient dense foods around!

While this soup may not be the most "traditional" holiday recipe, the creamy pumpkin spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg provides a comforting warmth and flavor that screams Thanksgiving! I think this soup would be a great way to start your turkey day meal, it would also be a nice light lunch or dinner in the days before and after the big feast! Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Banana Date Bread


I am always looking for ways to make tasty baked goods with less sugar - this recipe is my greatest success yet! This bread relies solely on fruit, bananas and dates, for sweetness. Alfred has a BIG sweet tooth and he didn't miss the sugar at all! So, this is one treat you can feel good about serving yourself and your loved ones!

Banana Date Loaf (Makes 1 Loaf)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Rum
2 Tablespoons Oil (I used olive oil)
2 Tablespoons Boiling Water
1 Cup Pitted Dates, diced
2 Cups of Flour (because I made this for Alfred I used 1 Cup All Purpose, 1 Cup Whole Wheat, you could also use a gluten-free all purpose flour blend if that suits your needs)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Salt
3 large, very ripe Bananas, mashed thoroughly or pureed
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 Cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil and flour your loaf pan so the bread will not stick.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the vanilla/rum, oil, hot water, and dates. Set aside.
3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
4) Use a fork to gently mash the date mixture then mix in the bananas and egg.
5) Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.
7) Bake the bread in the center of your oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack or a plate.





Enjoy a slice for breakfast, tea time, or dessert!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Citrus Scented Olive Oil Cake



I drew ideas for this recipe from several different sources – but my main objective was to use up some leftover buttermilk I had sitting in the fridge. Mission accomplished! All in all this is a very simple, yet flavorful sweet cake; it pairs perfectly with a cup of tea. The sugar and almond topping create a lovely crunchy crust, and the buttermilk and olive oil yield a light, moist interior.

Citrus Scented Olive Oil Cake
Ingredients:
•2 large eggs, room temperature
•3/4 cup sugar (I used evaporate cane juice)
•3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour)
•1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
•1/4 tsp salt
•1 tsp baking powder
•Zest from l lemon and 1 tangerine, finely grated or minced
•1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
•2/3 cup buttermilk or yogurt

For topping:
•2 Tbs sugar
•1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350˚F. Oil an 8-9 inch cake pan or springform pan with olive oil.
2.In a large bowl sift together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.
3.In a large measuring cup combine olive oil and buttermilk.
4.In a separate bowl, use your finger tips to rub the sugar and zest together to release the citrus oil. Spend a couple of minutes on this - it makes all the difference!
5.In a standing mixer or using a hand mixer (I used a hand mixer) beat the sugar/zest mixture and eggs on medium high until pale yellow, about 1 minute. On medium speed, add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/oil combination just until you have a smooth batter, don't overbeat it.
6.Pour the batter into the oiled pan. Sprinkle sugar and almond mixture on top.
7.Place in middle rack of oven, and bake until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour.
8. Let it cool a few minutes in the pan, meanwhile make a pot of teas.
9. Cut yourself a thick slice, pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!



As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Broccoli Chowder


I am so excited to share this recipe! It is a creamy, yummy and very nutritious DAIRY FREE chowder!!! I came across the recipe that inspired me on the wonderful blog - The Mommy Bowl. Deanna has many fantastic ideas so I strongly encourage you to check out her blog!

This recipe uses an ingredient I've been wanting to try for a while, but I've been a little nervous about it. The ingredient in question is nutritional yeast, it is an orange powder, with a cheesy, nutty taste. As the name suggests nutritional yeast is highly nutritious - it is a source of complete protein and is very high in vitamin B-12. One of my neighbors also recently informed me that it is helps promote lactation in breast feeding women (of course, that is NOT a concern I have at this time!). Vegans use it as a replacement for cheese in a wide range of recipes, but a lot of people have told me it is more of an "acquired taste." I am happy to report that Alfred and I both loved the flavor it added to this soup. If anything, I would have liked to have a little more! I am looking forward to trying it on pasta, in pesto and in caesar salad dressing! For those in the Lafayette/West Lafayette area, you can purchase nutritional yeast from the bulk bins at Sunspot Natural Market (FYI: Thursdays Purdue students and employees get a 20% discount!).

The recipe also uses tahini - an ingredient I am very familiar with, but that may be new to some of you. It is sesame seed paste - basically the sesame equivalent of peanut butter. It is a staple in our household. Alfred loves it for breakfast on bread with a little honey. I like it as a dip with celery, and it is a must have for homemade hummus of baba ganoush. I've also used it to make cookies (much like peanut butter) and in an Asian flavored sauce for noodles. So if you are a tahini novice and you're not sure if you want to buy a whole jar when you just need a little for this recipe - take the plunge, there is a lot you can do with it! Plus sesame seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, among other things they are a wonderful source of calcium - which makes it especially great for those who can't eat dairy! In this recipe, it adds a wonderful creaminess and richness to the soup, so I definetly wouldn't skip it!

Without further ado, here's the recipe!

Broccoli Chowder:
3 Broccoli Heads, finely chop both the florets and the stalks (at my grocery the broccoli is usually packaged in groups of three, it yielded about 5-6 cups of chopped broccoli)
1 Large Onion, peeled and diced
1 Large Carrot, peeled and diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
4 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 quart Vegetable of Chicken broth (or water, which I used because I was out of homemade broth)
1 teaspoon Ground Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Cup of cooked, pureed Cauliflower (you could substitute mashed potatoes or mashed white beans)
3 Tablespoons of Tahini
1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
Olive Oil for Pot
White Wine for deglazing

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the onions, celery and carrots. Saute 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, saute another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned. Add a splash of white wine to the pot and use a spoon to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
2) Add the broccoli, broth or water, mustard, red pepper and salt to the pot. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
3) Transfer approximately 3 cups of the soup to a blender, along with the cauliflower puree, tahini and nutritional yeast. Blend until nice and creamy. Add this back to the pot of soup. Taste the soup and add more salt as needed.
*I wanted a chunky chowder, so I only pureed part of the broccoli - if you want a smoother soup, you can puree it all.

Serve piping hot with a nice green salad for a lovely lunch or light supper!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin-y Granola


Although I have given up most grains with the hope of making my picky belly happy, I have yet to kick my oat habit. I love'em hot in oatmeal (there a pot simmering on the stove as I type) and I love'em cold like in this crunchy granola. This is actually my third granola recipe for those who are counting. This one is inspired by another love of mine - pumpkin, it features both pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds (the ones out of the white shell - pepitas). This granola is only lightly sweet, I always eat mine with fruit and yogurt or almond milk - the fruit adds plenty of sweetness. Alfred also mixes in dried fruit (chopped figs, dates, raisins, etc.) to sweeten his up. If, however, you are looking for a sweeter treat, simply replace 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree with a liquid sweetener of your choosing (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.).

Pumpkin-y Granola
5 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats
2 Cups of Puffed Grains (I used millet, rice or corn would work too or more oats)
1 Cup of Raw Pepitas
1 Cup of Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 Cup Finely Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
1 1/2 Cup Pumpkin or Winter Squash Puree
1/4 Cup Molasses (I used carob molasses)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly grated is always best!)
pinch of Sea Salt

1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, lightly coat two large sheet pans with oil (a pastry brush is helpful here).
2) In a large bowl combine the oats, grains, pepitas, sunflower seeds and coconut.
3) In another bowl, or large measuring cup, combine the pumpkin, molasses, vanilla and spices.
4) Add the pumpkin mixture to the oat mixture, and stir well (use your hands if you need to) until the oat mixture is evenly coated with the pumpkin mixture.
5) Divide the granola evenly between the two prepared sheet pans and spread it out.
6) Bake for 20 minutes, stir the granola around and rotate the pans for even toasting.
7) Repeat until the granola is golden brown and dry.

Let the granola cool completely before storing in an airtight container. *At this point you could mix in some dried fruit if you so desire!

Enjoy this by the handful, over yogurt or with milk!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Silky Cauliflower Soup



It's no secret that I adore veggies, in recent months cauliflower has become one of my favorites. I love it in vegetarian curries, roasted in the oven, and minced in the food processor as a substitute for rice. So, when I came across this recipe for a creamy (dairy free) cauliflower soup, I knew I had to give it a try.

This soup is very simple, but very satisfying. I served ours with a green salad, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cherries and a simple vinaigrette. It was the perfect fall lunch.

Silky Cauliflower Soup
1 Large Head of Cauliflower, roughly chopped (green parts removed)
1 Large Onion, chopped
4-5 Large Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 Quart of Vegetable Broth or Chicken for non-vegetarian (preferably homemade*)
1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
Olive oil for pan
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Topping - toasted garlic slices

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, coat the pot with a little olive oil (a couple tablespoons), add the onions and garlic, saute until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes)
2) Add the cauliflower, broth, and cumin. Cover and let simmer 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender.
3) Using an immersion blender or working in batches with an upright blender, puree the soup.
4) Taste the soup, add salt and pepper as needed. If desired, top each bowl of soup with toasted garlic slices.

*Because this soup contains so few ingredients, I would recommend using a good homemade broth - the quality of the broth really makes a big difference.

Like most soups, this one tastes even better reheated the next day, so double the recipe if you're feeding a crowd!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Creamy Chicken Curry


This is the second version of chicken curry I have made. In the first one , the chicken was simmered in a tomato-based sauce, this time I cooked the chicken in a creamy coconut milk-based sauce. It was absolutely delicious - Alfred and I both literally licked our plates. To be honest what made this dish was the fabulous curry powder I used. One of my dearest friends is from Sri Lanka and last time she was home her mother made a special blend of curry spices for me. This dish only contains a few ingredients, so the quality of the curry powder will determine whether it is so-so or tantalizing. If you are not a fortunate as me to have a friend with connections, make a trip to an Indian grocer store or shop at Penzey's spices online to get a good quality curry powder. You don't want a hot (madras) curry, but a flavorful combination of warm spices, such as garam masala. I'm pretty sure the Sri Lanka mixture I have also has a little ground fennel mixed in.

Creamy Chicken Curry
2 Pounds of bone-in, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in half
1 Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons Curry Powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 teaspoon Sea Salt (plus more to taste)
1 Cup Water
1 13.5 oz. Can of Coconut Milk
1 Cup diced Carrots
1 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
Large Handful of Cilantro, chopped

1) Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Coat the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken breasts pieces on each side until they are lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a plate.
2) Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon stick, salt, and 1/2 cup of water. Let the mixture simmer until the water is absorbed and the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
3) Add the seared chicken pieces back to the pot along with the remaining 1/2 cup of water, coconut milk and carrots. Cover and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
4) Add the peas and cilantro to the pot and let the curry simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve your curry piping hot with steamed basmati rice (Alfred's preference) or cauliflower rice (my preference). Enjoy!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Squash Bread


Each season brings with it wonderful new foods. Currently, we are relishing in Autumn's bounty of apples, pears, persimmons, turnips (I bought my first ever rutabaga today), sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squash. A local farmer sells produce about a block away from our apartment, and Alfred has been visiting his farm stand nearly everyday - butternut squash, one of our favorites, are only $1 each. Alfred, always the cunning bargain hunter, has been buying nearly a dozen per week (I am not joking!).

What are we doing with all of this squash? One of my favorite breakfasts (my breakfast today actually) is roasted butternut squash with toasted pecans, served over sauteed greens. I simply peel, seed (save the seeds for toasting like pumpkin seeds!), and dice the squash. Then toss it with a little olive oil and salt, spread it on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until the pieces are fully cooked (about 45 minutes, but it will depend on the size of your chunks). Cooked, pureed butternut squash is also a great substitute for pumpkin in baked goods - pies, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it! To prepare the puree I cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place the squash halves cut side down in a large baking dish, add about 1/4 cup of water, cover the dish with foil and bake the squash for 1 hour, or until tender. Allow the squash to cool a little, then use a spoon to scoop out all the flesh and puree it or mash it well. You can also freeze the puree for use later on (Turkey Day is just around the corner!). Butternut squash also store incredibly well - they will last for months at room temperature - so we are stalking up for the winter!

One of Alfred's favorite butternut squash flavored baked treats is the quick bread recipe posted below. You can also make muffins with the same recipe, just adjust the baking time to around 20 minutes. If you are not in the mood to roast your own squash, you can certainly substitute canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling).

Butternut Squash Bread:

Dry Ingredients:
1 3/4 Cup Flour (I use equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat; you could also substitute a gluten free flour blend if that suits your needs)
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed (optional - could also substitute wheat germ)
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/4 Cups Butternut Squash Puree
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Honey, Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar
3 Tablespoons Molasses
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus a little more for coating the pan.

2 Tablespoons Pepitas (hulled Pumpkin Seeds) - optional

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, lightly coat a standard (9 x 5) loaf pan with a little olive oil (a pastry brush is useful for this).
2) Sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir gently until you have a smooth batter.
3) Pour the batter into the oiled loaf pan, sprinkle the top of the batter with the pepitas (if using).
4) Bake the bread for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5) Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and dig in.

Allow the bread to cool completely before wrapping it in foil to store any leftovers.

We wish you all a very happy and tasty Fall!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I'm delighted to say that this recipe was also highlighted as a featured recipe on Friday Favorites!

This is a great blog carnival, I encourage you all to stop by and check it out!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sprouting Beans and a Nourishing Lentil Soup



For health, environmental, and taste preference reasons I follow a most vegan diet. I cannot eat dairy or eggs because of allergies. I choose not to eat pork or beef mainly because I don't like the way it tastes, but also because it is not environmentally sustainable, and it is not healthy. I occasionally (once or twice a week) eat a small amount of pasture raised chicken I purchase from a local farmer or wild fish. Most of the time my protein comes from legumes, nuts and seeds.

Although I adore beans and legumes of all sorts, they don't always love me - sometime they do a number on my belly, if you catch my drift :). Given my dilemma, I did some reading and found a couple of ways to cook legumes that makes them easier to digest. One of the best options is to sprout beans. According to many sources, not only does this make beans easier on the gut, it also makes them more nutritious.

So far, I have sprouted lentils and mung beans with great results. The process is very simple, here is a great resource with photos. Here are the simple steps I follow:
1) Soak 1 Cup of dry lentils or mung beans in plenty of water for 24 hours
2) Thoroughly rinse and drain lentils/beans.
3) Put drained lentils/beans in a large glass mason jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with cheese cloth, use a rubber band to secure the cloth.
4) Let the jar sit a room temperature for 24 hours, until the lentils/beans have small sprouts. The beans/lentils are now ready to cook with in recipes such as the nourishing lentil soup posted below. If you do not want to use them right away, you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days.
**If you want to enjoy bean sprouts raw, let the sprouts grow another 2-3 days, then refrigerate until you are ready to use them.

I made this lentil soup last week for Alfred. We have both been a little under the weather, I think we caught some type of virus, but it hit him much harder than me. The best word to describe this soup is nourishing - it warms you to the bone with the gentle smokiness of cumin. The lentils also ensure it is filling, without being heavy. Pair it with a nice green salad for a perfect fall meal.

Nourishing Lentil Soup


1 Cup of Lentils that have been sprouted
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Large Carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks of Celery, diced
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 medium Turnips, peeled and diced
1 medium Tomato, diced
3 Cups Stock (Vegetables or Chicken)
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 small bunch of spinach (around 3 cups)
Olive oil for pan

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with a little olive oil, add the onions, celery and carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally into the onions are translucent (about 10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and turnips and cook another few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach. Also add enough water to cover the vegetables and lentils by 1 inch. Cover the soup and let it simmer until the lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add the spinach leaves and let the soup simmer another 10 minutes. Taste the soup and add more salt as needed.



Eat up!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting



There are several treats I have long wanted to bake, at the top of my list are bagels and cinnamon rolls. This week I tackled cinnamon rolls, next week I'm going to try bagels! Although I can't eat either of these wheat treats, Alfred loves them and I love trying out new things in the kitchen, so it's a win win in my book! (By the way locals are welcome to pop by and help him gobble up bagels next week).

Of course, I had to healthy up the rolls a bit. The version below contains no butter or sugar. Instead I used honey, dates and olive oil. I also replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat flour to make them more nutritious :). Alfred loved them (meaning he ate 6 in one day - and the day is not over yet), so don't let the healthiness make you think they aren't yummy!

This recipe makes 18 rolls - that's an awful lot for one man (even one with a mighty apetite), so I only baked half the rolls, I froze the other half (at step 5 I cut off half of the cylinder, wrapped it well in plastic wrap and freezer paper, and placed it in the freezer. I then cut the remaining dough into 9 pieces to use right away). When I want to bake the frozen rolls, I will let the dough defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with step 6. Keep in mind that if you make only half the rolls, you will need only half of the cream cheese frosting.
* I also include an option for making the dough the night before and baking the rolls in the morning - this way you will have hot fresh rolls in just over an hour.

Dough
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Honey
2 teaspoons Yeast
1/4 cup warm Water
1 Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Salt
2-1/2 cups Bread Flour (or all-purpose)
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

Filling
1 Cup Pitted Dates (packed into measuring cup)
1/2 Cup Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz. Cream Cheese (I used reduced fat), softened
5 Tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

1) In a pot over medium heat, bring the milk nearly to a boil. Add the honey, salt, and olive oil; whisk thoroughly until honey dissolves. Set the milk mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and stir quickly. Stir in the egg. Add the milk mixture. (Make sure it's cooled down to room temperature or you'll kill the yeast.)

3) Combine the bread and whole wheat flour. Add the flour to the wet. Stir until the flour is all incorporated and the dough comes together in a soft, loose ball. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil (I always use extra virgin olive) to a clean bowl. Roll the dough around until it is oiled all over, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a wet dish towel. Put the bowl someplace warm, and let it rise until the dough has doubled in volume, about an hour-and-a-half.

4) Meanwhile make the filling and frosting. To make the filling combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the dates are soft and have absorbed the liquid. Thoroughly mash or puree the softened dates, set aside. To make the frosting, whip together all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined, then refrigerate the frosting until you are ready to use it.

5) Once the dough has risen, punch it down to deflate it. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about an eighth-inch thick (probably about 12-14 inches long by 8-10 inches wide). Spread the date filling evenly over the rectangle. Roll the dough up long-wise to form a cylinder 12-14 inches long. Cut the dough into 1 inch thick slices (I got 18).

6) Place the rolls in 2 oiled 8 or 9 inch round or square pan, or a 9-13 inch baking dish.

7) Now you have 2 options.

To bake the rolls right away:
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Bake the risen rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

To bake the rolls the following morning:
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place the pan in the refrigerator. In the morning, take the rolls out of the refrigerator and place them in a warm place to rise until they are doubled in size (about 45 minutes). Bake the risen rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

8) Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the hot rolls and enjoy!




As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eggplant Curry - Baingan Bharta



I love the combination of sweet and savory spices characteristic of Indian cuisine. I also love eggplant, and eggplant curry (Baingan Bharta) is one of my favorites anytime I eat at Indian restaurants. Since eggplants are plentiful at the farmer's market right now I decided to try to recreate this dish at home. Although it requires some exotic spices (you can easily purchase the spices online or at an ethnic grocer if you have one in your area), the dish is quite simple to prepare, and it is a great vegetarian option served with rice and a cucumber salad. I added some zucchini because I had some that needed using up - it is not "traditional" and you can omit it if you like.


Eggplant Curry - Baingan Bharta
1 Large Globe Eggplant
1 Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or 1 fresh red chili, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Beefsteak Tomato, diced
1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
Sea salt to taste
Oil for pan

1) Prepare eggplant: Roast the eggplant whole in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until very soft. Alternatively, wrap the eggplant in foil and roast it over an outdoor grill (I did this while cooking dinner on the grill the night before I wanted to make the eggplant) until the eggplant is very soft. Let eggplant cool, then peel the eggplant, and mash the eggplant flesh along with any juice from it.

2) Prepare the curry: Heat a large skillet over medium heat, coat the skillet with a thin layer of oil. Add the onions, saute until they are transluscent. Add the ginger and garlic, saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, saute another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and mashed eggplant. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Taste the curry, add salt as needed. Let simmer uncovered an additional 15 minutes, until the zucchini is very soft and the mixture has thickened.

Serve over steamed rice or try cauliflower rice for a yummy grain free treat!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah



Shana Tovah! Happy New Year! We are very lucky to get to celebrate new years three times a year at our house: on January 1st we celebrate the New Year of the Gregorian calendar, in the Spring we celebrate the Persian new year - Noowruz, and in the fall we celebrate the Jewish new year - Rosh Hashanah. Of course, each of these holidays has it's own special food related tradtions. On January 1st we have black-eyed peas, for Nowruz we have fish with herbed rice, and on Rosh Hashanah we have lots of treats enriched with honey and/or apples. Being from Iran, Alfred's not accustomed to many of the Rosh Hashanah treats popular in the US - mostly brought over from European Jews - but if it is a sweet baked good he has no problem trying it out! In years past I made him challah to dip in honey and a cake chock-ful of apples. Both are traditional Rosh Hashanah fare. This year I opted for another classic Rosh Hashanah treat - honey cake. Of course, I had to healthy it up a little. As the name suggests, the cake is sweetened with plenty of honey, which also contributes moisture. Sweet spices including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves also add wonderful flavor. Whether you are Jewish or not, this is a great fall dessert. For those of you who, like me, can't have gluten, feel free to use almond flour rather than wheat!

Honey Cake:

1 Cup all-purpose flour (substitute almond flour for a gluten free option)
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry or White Whole Wheat Flour (or more all-purpose or almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 Cup apple juice
1/4 Cup oil (I used melted coconut oil - you can also use olive, grape seed or canola)
*Confectioner Sugar for Decorating (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350, lightly oil and flour a 9 inch square, round, or spring form pan.
2) In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
3) In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining (wet) ingredients.
4) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the liquid ingredients and beat until smooth.
5) Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.
6) Let cool completely and then decorate with confectioner sugar if desired.

I hope you and yours have a sweet new year!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Berry Orange Muffins



As far as muffins go, these are a very healthy treat. They are chockful of whole grains, healthy fats, fruit and natural sweeteners. I did not sample them because they are gluten-ful - but Alfred gives them two thumbs up (he ate three of them today). I used some of the wild black raspberries we picked earlier this summer and froze, red raspberries or blackberries would be great stand-ins.

The Recipe:
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour (preferably unbleached)
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (White whole wheat is a nice option)
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs (preferably free range and local, and at room temperature)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil (Grape seed is also a good option)
1/4 Cup honey
1/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 Cup evaporated cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or sucanat (plus more for sprinkling on top if desired)- truth be told, you can use regular granulated sugar, these are just slightly healthier options
Juice and Zest of 2 oranges (I got about 1/2 cup of juice)
1 Cup Berries

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, line a muffin pan with paper liners (this recipes makes about a dozen).
2) Sift together the flours, flax, baking powder, soda and salt.
3) Combine the eggs, oil, honey, applesauce and orange juice.
4) Combine the sugar and orange zest, use your fingers to rub the zest and sugar together - this will cause the zest to release more of its oil, which is where all the flavor is
5) Add the zesty sugar to the wet ingredients
6) Thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients, fold in the berries
7) Spoon batter into muffin cups (an ice cream scoop is pretty handy for this) and sprinkle a little sugar on top of each unbaked muffin (that is optional, but it makes for a nice crunchy muffin top)
8) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9) Remove immediately from muffin pan (if you let muffins sit in the pan, the bottoms steam and get soggy) and enjoy!





As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!